This blog is moving!

This is the final post on the Manchester Graduate Careers Blog (sniff).

We are banding togething with our colleagues who write the Manchester Undergraduate, Postgraduate, International and Media blogs to unite and form one blog to rule them all – woo ha ha!

Hopefully the new blog will be even better than the sum of its parts…

  • You’ll still get graduate specific content in the ‘Graduate’ category
  • If you are a reader of more than one of our blogs it will be easier to check or follow a single blog and find all the content that is of interest to you
  • If you haven’t seen our other blogs before hopefully we can lure you in to read some of the other excellent articles on offer
  • Shorter and easier to remember URL:
  • Feeds from all our official Twitter accounts in one place
  • Shiny new layout!

Come over and see us!

Part-Time Masters

As the new semester approaches not only am I preparing the Careers Resource Centre for a new cohort I’m also preparing to go back to University myself, for the 2nd year of my part time masters. I’m studying Library and Information Management.

Studying a masters part-time either alongside a current job or due to other commitments may be something you are considering or even starting this autumn, so I thought I’d give you an insight into how I coped with the pressure of my fist year.

There is no getting around the fact that studying for masters alongside other commitments such as employment or childcare is demanding and often very difficult. I would therefore recommend that you think carefully about the reasons why you want to take the qualification and whether or not you can realistically commit to the demands of the course.

If you do decide that a part-time masters is right for you there are few coping strategies I could recommend –

  • Don’t treat the course  as an extension to your undergraduate degree – Even if you are studying the same subject as your undergrad degree the work demands and fact that you may only be on campus once or twice a week means that part time postgraduate study is very different.
  • Organise a routine that suits you – Whether it’s sacrificing the majority of your weekend, working as soon as you get in on an evening or starting to work later in the night it’s important to find a routine that works for you – and to stick to it! Remember what works for others might not work for you.
  • Don’t try to ‘compete’ with full-time students – don’t worry if you hear full time students are spending hours and hours in the library, as a part time student this is simply not possible.  Although full time students will be taking more modules than you they may also have more time on their hands to study.
  • Don’t read that extra book– Following on from my previous point as a part time student do that best you can do with the time available to you. If you don’t have time to read that extra book, don’t read it!
  • Allow yourself some time off – For you own sanity, and the other around you it’s important to give yourself some time off when you can. Try to arrange something fun during this time to get your mind off your work.

For more information on postgraduate study have a look at our ‘Postgraduate Study and Funding UK & Overseas’resource and at the Careers Service and Prospects website.

‘I got the job!’ Learn from success stories

I always enjoy hearing from graduates who let us know that they have got a job. A couple of recent success stories are quoted below from 2012 graduates who got a job after attending our Graduate Recruitment Fair in June.

While we might have helped by inviting companies that these graduates might not otherwise have considered applying to, what  the graduates did themselves was vital – after all those employers didn’t employ every graduate they spoke to. So what can you learn to make you the next success story?

I went to a meeting before the Manchester graduate fair this year, and we got told to dress smartly. I went to a stand called Manpower, and because I was dressed smartly and made a good impression on them by approaching and talking to them, they asked me to come down for an assessment centre in London.

Following a final interview yesterday, I have now got the job.  Of course, after the meeting concerning the graduate fair, I never thought that I would even get asked/fastracked to come down to an assessment centre. But it would be good to let students know in future meetings that it does happen.

I am so happy now as I get to do a job in the field I wanted to specialise in (recruitment). Attending the grad’ fair, and making a good impression can definitely pay off!

This graduate clearly listened to advice and ensured he looked and acted professionally.  He had a clear idea of what he was interested in and targeted relevant exhibitors.  He must have asked sensible relevant questions and demonstrated good communication skills in order to impress.

You never get a second chance to make a good first impression so make sure you take opportunities to meet professionals seriously. Think about how you look, what you say and how you say it.

I just wanted to say a massive thank you to the careers department for the graduate recruitment fair back in June. Thanks to all the adverts I went along to it and spoke to a lot of companies. One in particular Unicom were there and I spoke to them, gave them my CV and after several interview stages, I received a phone call this morning to tell me I was being offered one of the 6 places available for their Graduate Management Programme. I also received some really good advice at improving my CV at the fair.

My tips are to be confident, and to be prepared.

Also I worked really hard at my degree and came out with a 2:2, which I was proud of. It just goes to show that top grades are only part of being successful. I graduated in July and now I’ve got a graduate job. There are a lot of successful companies who are looking for the right person for them and not just the top academics.

This graduate says she spoke to several companies – you can’t expect every application to be successful so you need to increase your chances by trying a multi-pronged job seeking strategy with a number of organisations. She also thought hard about what the company were looking for and how she could match those requirements.

Both graduates also made a good job of the formal application/interview/assessment centre process.  You can’t take short-cuts with the essential basics of job hunting – better to apply for 5 jobs well than 50 jobs half-heartedly.

See also another recent success story of a PhD student who obtained a postdoc position has been reblogged on the postgrad blog. Packed full of lots of tips and advice!

Help shape the future of the blog

Here at Careers HQ we are thinking of making some changes to our blogs and I wanted to see what you graduates thought.

Currently we have a number of different blogs – Undergraduate, Graduate (obviously!), Postgraduate, International, Medics and even Media but we are now  thinking of using a new template to merge all into one magazine style blog! We will still have the categories for undergraduate, graduate, postgraduate etc. so you as readers will still get the same tailored advice, infomation and news but you will also be able to access a range of other posts which might be useful or of interest.

We all think it’s a good idea, but what about you?

I also want to take this opportunity to find out whether readers of this blog are happy with it’s content.  Do you think what we blog about is relevent to you? Would you like to see more or less of something? Are there any issues you would like us to cover?

Please post your comments below, we are happy to take your opinions on board.

Interview mistakes no-one should make – yet do

We all make mistakes, people who love us forgive us. But mistakes irritate strangers, and interviewers in particular do not have any reason to forgive.

An interview is an opportunity to demonstrate your skills and capabilities, showing that you are incapable is a sure way not to get hired. Take some basic precautions to avoid following these recent examples.

Arriving on the wrong day

A candidate arrived for his job interview a full week early. He said he thought he might have got the date wrong but as he had deleted the email inviting him and not written it down anywhere he thought he would turn up anyway to be on the safe side.

Early is better than late, at least he didn’t miss his interview but he did show himself to be disorganised which was not a good first impression to make.

Precautions to avoid this mistake

  • Save any and all correspondence related to your job hunting.
  • Note interview dates and times in more than one place. Using your phone as an organiser is great but it’s worth writing important dates down too, just in case your phone breaks, runs out of charge, gets lost or stolen.

Incomplete location details

A prospective student came to the Careers Service looking for her degree entry interview. She had the University postcode for the satnav, but she had not brought the name of the person who was supposed to interview her, or the details of the room or building where the interview was due to take place.

Precautions to avoid this mistake

  • Print and take along all instructions you are sent.
  • Check that you not only have the full address but also directions to anywhere you are unfamiliar with. Map apps are really helpful on the move but it is worth having a paper map as a backup, in case of technical failure.
  • You should take with you the name, job title and contact details of the interviewer plus a general phone number for the company in case you encounter serious difficulties en route and need to inform them.

Forgetting the details of the job you applied for

A graduate gets shortlisted for a job, they look at the company website or job site to refresh their memory of the job details and find it has been removed. This one happens all the time, some graduates even forget which companies they have applied to!

Precautions to avoid this mistake.

  • Organise your files, both electronic and paper.
  • Save the job description and copy of your final application into folders clearly labelled with job title and organisation name. If online application systems do not permit you to save a copy of your form cut and paste the information into a Word file.
  • It is useful to create a document for each job you apply for, so that you don’t get mixed up.
    Note: where you saw the vacancy, date applied, date by which you should hear back if shortlisted (if known), and details of any correspondence/phone calls that you have with the organisation (date, time, name of contact, what was discussed).

The myths surrounding postgraduate study

A great post, this research certainly tallies with the opinions of employers I have met.

The University of Bristol Careers Service Blog has Now Moved!

Recently, with other members of the AGCAS (Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services) postgraduate task group, I’ve been conducting research to explore some of the myths surrounding postgraduate study.  With widespread media perception of a depressed graduate market and a devalued first degree it is understandable that many students embark on postgraduate study in the hope that it will offer them a competitive advantage when applying for jobs.  I’ve interviewed some of our graduate recruiters to see if they agree.

Do employers have a separate entry point for postgraduates?

One of the first questions asked was about separate entry points for postgraduates.  I know that this is of real significance to some postgraduates, after a Masters and a three or four year PhD you don’t necessarily want to apply for something that you feel you could have applied for four or five years before.  The reality is that there are…

View original post 639 more words

How to make speculative applications

So you’re looking for a particular type of job. You’ve scoured every newspaper and signed up for all the jobsites, and recruitment agencies that you can find. You’ve applied for every vacancy going or there are no jobs to be found and you are out of options. What else can you do? Apply speculatively.

Applying speculatively means sending your application when an organisation is not advertising a job. I probably get asked more questions about this job search tactic than any other! After all you don’t have a job description or a set of guidelines to follow so it can be scary to the uninitiated. So here are my top tips…

Do all organisations accept speculative applications?

No. Some will only accept applications when they are actively advertising a job, this is especially true of public sector organisations such as the NHS, universities and local councils.

For small companies and particular sectors speculative applications are the norm. Always check organisations’ websites so you know where you stand before you apply.

Where can I get a list of organisations to apply to?

Sadly these lists are not pre-made so you have to generate them yourself. Decide the parameters of your job search – the role you want, type of organisation and geographic area. Start narrow and try to generate a manageable list first, then broaden it out if you exhaust your options.

  • The ‘typical employers’ section of Prospects profiles are useful for finding out what type of organisations recruit for certain roles. Consider whether small and medium sized companies are likely to be an option as well as large employers and whether this appeals to you.
  • If the companies you are interested in will need to promote themselves to clients where will they do this? Yellow pages is great for searching for a type of company in a particular town, but also consider if there are specific websites or directories that you should check.
  • Are the organisations you are interested in likely to belong to/be accredited by a professional body? Professions like law, accountancy, engineering and architecture are regulated by professional bodies which often will make a list of members available on their website. Sometimes this list is password protected and only accessible to members, but it is often possible to join very cheaply as a student or unwaged member.
  • Check to see if the Careers Service has done the work for you. Our sector pages include recommended links, the north west pages sometimes include lists of employers that we have compiled (these are not exhaustive but can give you a place to begin).

So I have my list of target organisations- now what do I do?

In a word: research.

Look at the organisation’s website, not only the ‘working for us’ and ‘about us’ sections but also the client-facing pages. Consider: what do they do, what is important to them, who are their clients, who are their competitors? Also research the industry more widely, search local and national press for relevant stories, read industry-specific journals (often available on reference at the Careers Service or in local libraries), look at their competitors’ websites.

Next think: how do I match the interests and priorities of the organisation, what have I got to offer that will be relevant? The more you know, the more targeted you will be able to make your application – and targeting is the key to success.

So, now can I apply?

Not just yet. Before you take the plunge think about networking. Networking can help you so much with your research, so you understand what the organisation is looking for, whether they are likely to have opportunities coming up and who you should send a speculative application to. It is also a way to make a great first impression, so that the intended recipient of your speculative application already knows you, which means they are more likely to read your application and look positively on it than if you just sent it without preparing the way.

What should a speculative application consist of?

In most cases a targeted CV and covering letter.

How many speculative applications should I make?

As many as you can do well. It is better to make 5 strong targeted applications than 50 identical ones.

Can I get some help?

Of course!  Whether it is compiling a list of organisations, checking an application before you send it or talking over what to say when networking contact the Information team at the Careers Service by phone (0161 275 2829) or email.